I often allow a movie to marinate for a couple days before I say anything about it. If a friend asks how it was or wants my opinion I say I do not know. However, my experience with The Last Suit was different. I knew exactly how the film impacted me the second the screen faded to black, maybe even the moment Abraham goes to his backyard to tell his stubborn granddaughter to “eat shit” in the first scene—the kid doesn’t want to have her picture taken. The Last Suit, both written and directed by Pablo Solarz, is a movie about a man leaving one home and returning to another. It glued me from its first moments and held until the final frame, where I was left to use my own tears to unstick myself.
Solarz’ creation isn’t a noise you put on in the background, it’s a museum piece that you sit down to stare at not even realizing that hours have gone by. Abraham Bursztein (Miguel Ángel Solá) is an 88-year-old, acid-tongued Jewish man who escaped the Holocaust after seeing his family murdered by the Nazis. His daughters sell his house in Buenos Aires, where he has lived for the past fifty years and arrange for him to live in a nursing home. Wanting no part of his offspring’s plans, he goes back to Poland to deliver a suit to an old friend. Throughout the film, Abraham wanders Europe with a rotting leg to escape the fate of a nursing home. Hidden in his Bukowski one-liners and fervorous drive to complete his goals is the realization that we love and support this man and that, without us knowing, we have trusted him with our emotional cores. Abraham wins us. He is raw and unfiltered, proud and intelligent, graceless yet true, and reasonable enough to accept a crutch unlike so many other troped “old and tough” characters in the film world.
We follow Abraham through endeavor after endeavor, the frequency of which takes us out of the film’s trance for a brief period, until his final moments where he reaches an ethereal form of closure that he has been in search for since he left Poland in the 1930s, a moment when there’s nothing for us to do except sit there with a tennis ball lodged in our throat. Solarz also riddles the already poetic journey of Abraham with rich dialogue that is two-times-cemented by Solá’s seamless delivery.
The Last Suit is a type of film that the American mainstream needs more of, especially in an industry that has been running on the fumes of sequels and hot-lead summer hits. Foreign films like these often prove to be some of the most emotionally amalgamating works for an English-speaking audience. A closed-caption film is essentially a book with its characters and scenes coming to life in the background, and we have a certain vulnerability to the type of damage it is capable of. Take Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights for example. In this film, we follow the Tramp, a character mostly prone to farcical scenes and lighter comedy. But then comes the ending when we see him run into the flower girl. The Tramp has been in love with her since the first moments of the film, and she is now no longer blind. As they stand together she touches his hands. She immediately understands who he is, the man that cured her blindness. “You” she says. And without a blink, we realize we’ve been transported from a convivial farce to a state of despair we didn’t even know a silent film was authorized to have.
The Last Suit is this and more. Its first-half knots our cheeks with smiles through scenes of quick-witted comments, sundried humor, and fetching cinematography, and then steps into a midpoint that reveals the reality that Abraham isn’t invincible – that he is in a race for time. We watch until Abraham finally comes face to face with the end of his journey, the man that saved his life, the man to wear his last suit.
Running Time: 92 minutes / Not Rated / In Spanish (with English subtitles)
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Max Ferguson is a student at NYU studying film and sitcom writing. He has written for several magazines, two university-based newspapers, and has won national awards for his essays.